Getting enough quality sleep is crucial for your health. Your sleeping habits can affect every aspect of your life, including your weight, metabolism, brain function, and mood. Sleeping too little has been linked to increased risk of heart disease, stroke, hypertension, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
In this article, you will learn to calculate the best time for you to sleep based on your sleep cycles. You can also find out how unhealthy your nighttime sleep routine is with the help of our sleep calculator. Read on to learn what sleep cycles are and how they can affect our health.
Most people wake up at a fixed time each day as they have to get ready to go to work or school. The time when we sleep, on the other hand, is highly variable due to our social lives, or because you may be binge-watching some show on television. If you know the time you have to wake up and how much time it takes you to fall asleep, our sleep calculator can recommend the perfect sleep time for you.
- Choose how much time it takes you to fall asleep. Most people take between 10 to 20 minutes to fall asleep.
- Now select the time you want to wake up in the morning.
Our sleep calculator will calculate and tell you exactly when you should go to bed. The detailed description explains the number of sleep cycles and hours of sleep you may need if you are a long sleeper, a short sleeper, or an average sleeper.
For example –
If you take 15 minutes to fall asleep and you get up at 7:30 am, the sleep calculator recommends:
- Long sleepers should sleep at 10:15 pm (6 cycles, 9 hours of sleep)
- Average sleepers should sleep at 11:45 pm (5 cycles, 7 hours 30 minutes of sleep)
- Short sleepers should sleep at 1:45 pm (4 cycles, 6 hours of sleep)
You can also check if your regular sleep routine is healthy or not by using this calculator. Just select the number of hours that you usually sleep at night and know your mortality risk.
What are sleep cycles?
Now that you know your results, you may be curious to know about sleep cycles. When we sleep, our brain goes through different patterns of activity. These patterns are based on eye movements and muscle activity. These movements have been classified into two distinct categories:
- Rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep
- Non-rapid-eye-movement (NREM) sleep
A normal person needs five to six sleep cycles to feel fully regenerated in the morning.
How long is a sleep cycle?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, your natural sleep cycle lasts 90 minutes. During this time, your brain moves through an alternating pattern of REM and NREM sleep (1). Each cycle includes four stages. These include –
1. N1 (formerly stage 1)
This is a light sleep stage. You are still between being awake and falling asleep.
2. N2 (formerly stage 2)
The onset of sleep comes at this stage, and you become disengaged from your surroundings. Your heart rate and breathing become regular, and your body temperature drops.
3. N3 (formerly stage 3 and 4)
This stage is the deepest and most restorative stage of sleep. Your breathing becomes slower, blood pressure drops, and muscles are relaxed. This is the stage when your energy is restored, and tissue growth and repair occurs. Your growth hormones are released at this stage. This is a deep sleep stage, and it is tough to wake up someone from this stage.
This stage first occurs 90 minutes after you fall asleep and then occurs after every 90 minutes. It takes up about 25% of your sleep cycle. During this stage, your brain is active, and dreams happen. Your eyes move back and forth, and your body is relaxed. This stage provides energy to your body and brain. When you wake up at the end of a sleep cycle, you are more relaxed and refreshed.
How much sleep do you need each night?
An average person needs five to six cycles of sleep every night to feel refreshed when they wake up. How long we need to sleep depends on our age. While an infant needs up to 17 hours of sleep a day, an adult needs only 7 hours. The sleep time recommendations as per the National Sleep Foundation are as follows (2) –
- Birth – 3 months – 14 to 17 hours
- 4 – 11 months – 12 to 15 hours
- 1 year – 2 years – 11 to 14 hours
- 3 years – 5 years – 10 to 13 hours
- 6 years -13 years – 9 to 11 hours
- 14 years – 17 years – 8 to 10 hours
- 18 years – 64 years – 7 to 9 hours
- 65 years and older – 7 to 8 hours
Why is getting enough sleep important?
Sleep plays a critical role in our life. Getting enough good quality sleep protects our mental and physical health. When we fall asleep, our body works hard to maintain our physical health and support healthy brain function. It also helps in the growth and development of young children.
Here are some of how we can benefit from good sleep –
- A good night’s sleep improves concentration, productivity, and cognition.
- Restful sleep reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke.
- It helps in better weight management.
- Sleep improves athletic performance.
- Better sleep quality can help fight off infections by boosting the immune system.
- Sleep helps to lower your risk of developing chronic illnesses like diabetes and high blood pressure.
- Good quality sleep can reduce your risk of depression.
Have you ever felt disoriented after getting up from a nap? When you wake up in the middle of your sleep cycle, you do not feel well-rested. That is why it is better to either limit your nap to 15 minutes or sleep for at least 90 minutes, till you are back to stage one. It is possible to sleep for fever hours and wake up well-rested. Follow these tips to improve your sleep habits –
1. Set up alarms
Set up alarms for when you have to sleep and when you have to wake up. Going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time every day is beneficial in maintaining the body’s sleep-wake rhythm. Using the snooze button for the extra five or 10 minutes is not helpful because you cannot fall asleep at this time.
2. Avoid screens before bedtime
Avoid using your phone, computer, or television for at least two hours before your sleep. The light from the screens affects your levels of melatonin and makes it difficult to fall asleep. You must use the hours before bedtime to relax your mind.
3. No nicotine or caffeine before sleep
Avoid nicotine (cigarettes) and caffeine (coffee, tea, caffeinated soda) before you sleep. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants, and they can affect the quality of your sleep. The effects of caffeine can last for up to eight hours.
4. Exercise during the day
Physical activity during the day increases the time spent in deep sleep, the restorative part of sleep. Exercise also helps to increase the duration of your nightly rest.
5. Make your room restful
Keep your bedroom quiet, cool, and dark to improve the quality of your sleep. If the room temperature is too cold or too high, it can affect the REM stage of your sleep. Light inhibits the rise of melatonin in your body and affects sleep. According to the WHO, the average night exposure to sound should not exceed 40 decibels.
We all have different sleep needs depending on our age. Using an online sleep calculator is the easiest way to find the perfect sleep schedule. Having a specific sleep schedule can help you to get a restful sleep.
With the help of a sleep calculator, you can figure out the right time to sleep and the right time to get up. To feel relaxed and refreshed after you get up, you must plan to wake up at the end of your sleep cycle. A good night’s sleep improves concentration, productivity, and cognition. It also reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke.